Kate and I had a powwow last night before we passed out about how we would define a successful cross-country day at Les Etoiles de Pau. We ultimately decided that five riders making it around without any jumping penalties would be an A-plus day, and we came oh so close to meeting that goal. Considering we had two riders come home with double-clear trips and two more bring home clear jumping rounds with a teeny amount of time penalties, I’m still hailing today as a major success for Team USA.
Clark Montgomery — who delivered the first double clear for Team USA with Universe — wisely noted that we’re still probably a few years away from being internationally competitive on a consistent basis — and Coach David O’Connor has echoed the same sentiment — but the point is we’re on the right track. I asked Marilyn Little in our interview if she sees today as a turning point. “Sometimes all you need is a little boost. Today I think is a big boost,” she said. I couldn’t agree more.
Now we look ahead to tomorrow, when our five Americans still in the competition look to leave all the poles in the cups for show jumping. Lynn Symansky and Donner put in a very memorable clear show jumping round at Rolex this spring, and I asked her in our interview if she expected him to do the same here at Pau. She said he gets a bit nervous when people line the arena rails — and we’re definitely going to see big crowds tomorrow — but he’s an excellent jumper, and he can certainly bring it home.
Many thanks to Marilyn, Lynn and Clark for taking time to chat with me this afternoon. And I told Phillip I wouldn’t make him talk twice since we already got a chance to hear from him in the press conference, so check out that video below; Phillip starts speaking at about the 4:55 minute mark. This is the fourth time this year I’ve traveled to Europe with Team USA, and it’s the first time we’ve had an American in a press conference all year. That alone speaks volumes. Go Team USA.